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Physics Prof. Schneider captures nature in photos

Mark Schneider, Professor of Physics at Grinnell College, recently opened a photo exhibit at the Grinnell Arts Center Gallery entitled “Earth, Water and Sky: Recent Landscape and Nature Photographs.” In it, he displays vibrant scenes of nature, many including animals.

Mark Schneider, Professor of Physics, recently opened a photography exhibit at the Arts Center Gallery downtown. The exhibit showcases landscapes and animals with a focus on local nature. Photograph taken by Daniel Penny.

The photographs are situated immediately upon entrance into the space and wrap around all three walls that face the entry. Schneider’s 23 photos encapsulate and seem nostalgic for a time when nature itself was a marvel, something to revere and treasure.

Schneider keeps these themes in his mind when deciding what scenes to capture with his camera.

“[It’s] pretty intuitive for me so I find it hard to describe. Once something catches my interest, then I worry over the details like lighting, good background, and other technical aspects to decide if it is worth the effort,” he said. “Even so, I take a lot more than I show!”

Schneider exhibits many types of photographs. His black and white photos are displayed in medium or large format, and he also includes many colored images with different levels of saturation.

For example, in “Road to the Horizon,” a black and white piece taken not far from Grinnell, Schneider is able to literally capture an immense landscape with a medium format film. Within the photo’s small dimensions one can sense the depth between each of the hills and the mileage that lies in and around each plot of land.

In “Snow Geese” Schneider shows thousands of geese densely packed, resting on a lake. These geese seem keenly unaware, and unbothered by their lack of space. However, to ponder geese in this quantity, at least from a human perspective, results in a compelling photo.

Schneider finds that the best photos work to preserve a landscape or to capture a certain sentiment.

“That’s my key to deciding if an image is a ‘keeper’ or not,” Schneider said. “If I find I have the same feeling looking at it that I did when I was there, that’s success. And it doesn’t happen often, I find. “

In an introduction that Schneider includes at the show to preface his work, he explains that his parents, and his father especially, introduced him to photography and a respect for nature in his grade school years.

“I take pictures to keep the memories of places strong with me—to preserve their images and share them with others,” he said.

Schneider hopes that his photographs will help people love and protect these places.

This exhibit opened on April 9 and will run until April 30 and is housed downtown in the former Stewart Library. The gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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